Throughout her time on the Simi Valley City Council, but especially during the month of July (with the posting of a video on Facebook and her words and actions in the aftermath), Ruth Luevanos has violated the Code of Ethics and Conduct for Elected Officials.
The code was enacted because the City Council believes that "the citizens and businesses of Simi Valley are entitled to have fair, ethical and accountable local government which has earned the public’s full confidence for integrity." Four requirements are listed in the Code's Statement of Purpose, three of which we believe Councilmember Luevanos has violated (emphasis added).
- public officials, both elected and appointed, comply with both the letter and spirit of the laws and policies affecting the operations of government;
- public officials be independent, impartial, and fair in their judgment and actions;
- public office be used for the public good, not for personal gain; and
- public deliberations and processes be conducted openly, unless legally confidential, in an atmosphere of respect and civility.
We believe that Councilmember Luevanos has violated the following numbered provisions of the Code of Ethics (emphasis added):
1. Act in the Public Interest
Recognizing that stewardship of the public interest must be their primary concern, members will work for the common good of the people of Simi Valley and not for any private or personal interest, and they will assure fair and equal treatment of all persons, claims and transactions coming before the Simi Valley City Council, boards, commissions, and committees.
2. Comply with the Law
Members shall comply with the laws of the nation, the State of California, and the City of Simi Valley in the performance of their public duties. These laws include, but are not limited to: the United States and California constitutions; laws pertaining to conflicts of interest, election campaigns, financial disclosures, employer responsibilities, and open processes of government; and City ordinances and policies.
3. Conduct of Members
The professional and personal conduct of members must be above reproach and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Members shall refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of other members of Council, boards, commissions, and committees, the staff or public.
11. Use of Public Resources
Members shall not use public resources not available to the public in general, such as City staff time, equipment, supplies or facilities, for private gain or personal purposes. Members shall not utilize the City’s name or logo for the purpose of endorsing any political candidate or business.
Members shall represent the official policies or positions of the City Council, board, commission, or committee to the best of their ability when designated as delegates for this purpose. When presenting their individual opinions and positions, members shall explicitly state they do not represent their body or the City of Simi Valley, nor will they allow the inference that they do.
18. Compliance and Enforcement
The Simi Valley Code of Ethics and Conduct expresses standards of ethical conduct expected for members of the Simi Valley City Council, boards, commissions, and committees. Members themselves have the primary responsibility to assure that ethical standards are understood and met, and that the public can continue to have full confidence in the integrity of government.
The Code of Ethics concludes with an eight-point "Statement of Commitment" which Luevanos signed. We believe she has violated six of the eight commitments she made to the people of Simi Valley. The Statement reads:
- Recognize the worth of individual members and appreciate their individual talents, perspectives and contributions;
- Help create an atmosphere of respect and civility where individual members, City staff and the public are free to express their ideas and work to their full potential;
- Conduct my personal and public affairs with honesty, integrity, fairness and respect for others;
- Respect the dignity and privacy of individuals and organizations;
- Keep the common good as my highest purpose and focus on achieving constructive solutions for the public benefit;
- Avoid and discourage conduct which is divisive or harmful to the best interests of Simi Valley;
- Treat all people with whom I come in contact in the way I wish to be treated.
Before I speak or act I will ask myself the following four questions:
- 1. Is it the truth?
- 2. Is it fair to all concerned?
- 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
- 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?
The code states that "The City Council may impose sanctions on members whose conduct does not comply with the City’s ethical standards, such as reprimand, formal censure, loss of seniority or committee assignment. The City Council also may act to remove members of boards, commissions, and committees from office." Therefore, recall is solely in the hands of the voters.